How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping the Breaker

July 8, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

If your refrigerator keeps tripping the circuit breaker, there might be an issue with the wiring, outlet, one of the refrigerator’s components, or an overloaded circuit. This article will run through all the potential issues that could be causing the fridge to trip the breaker, and crucially, we’ll offer tips on how to fix it.

Is the circuit overloaded?

If you have other appliances running on the same circuit as your refrigerator, such as a kettle, microwave, dishwasher, or toaster, the circuit might be overloaded and tripping as a result. An overloaded circuit is the most common reason a refrigerator would trip the circuit breaker, so it’s the first thing you’ll want to check.

However, refrigerators are usually put on their own dedicated circuit since they draw a lot of power, with most refrigerator manufacturers demanding that this is the case. So, if your refrigerator is sharing a circuit with other appliances, unplug some of these appliances and move them to a different circuit. Also, consider hiring an electrician to install a dedicated circuit for your refrigerator.

You can find out which appliances share the same circuit with the refrigerator by checking which lights, appliances, or outlets also lose power when the refrigerator trips the breaker.

Is the outlet faulty?

A faulty outlet could also be the cause of the circuit breaker tripping. To check, start by pulling your refrigerator away from the wall and unplugging it from the outlet. Then, check the outlet for any visible signs of burning or arcing.

Burning or arcing would be a clear sign of a serious electrical issue and you should call in an electrician to replace the outlet and assess what caused the problem. Burning and arcing on an outlet can lead to fires, so it’s not something to be ignored. Also, the outlet shouldn’t be used again until it is fixed.

If there are no obvious signs of damage to the outlet, you can try plugging another device or appliance into it to see if it works normally or also causes the circuit breaker to trip. If other appliances work fine in an undamaged outlet without causing tripping, it likely means there’s an issue with the refrigerator itself.

If other appliances also trip the breaker, there’s likely a problem with the outlet, such as a loose connection or arcing, or a problem with the circuit wiring. In this case, you’ll need to have an electrician come and inspect the circuit and outlet and perform any necessary repairs.  

Is the refrigerator’s power cord damaged?

A damaged power cord could also be the cause of the problem since it can create electrical faults, such as a short circuit, that cause the breaker to trip. To inspect the power cord, unplug it and pull the refrigerator away from the wall for better access.

Examine the cord for signs of damage such as splits, exposed wires, fraying, and burnt areas. Also, check that the prongs on the plug aren’t bent or loose. If you find any of these issues, the power cord will need replacing. You might be able to replace it yourself or call in a professional if you’re not comfortable doing it.

Here’s a general guide on how to replace a damaged power cord on a refrigerator:  

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Order a new power cord compatible with your refrigerator; most use a standard type of power cord.
  3. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall so you can access its back.
  4. Remove the screws holding the access panel in place. It’s where the power cord connects to the refrigerator.
  5. Remove any screws holding the power cord in place.
  6. Remove the screw securing the ground wire.
  7. Remove the power cord by disconnecting its wire harness connector.
  8. Install the new power cord by connecting its wire harness, screwing in the ground wire, and securing the cord with any mounting screws.
  9. Replace the access panel and plug the refrigerator back in to check if the problem has been resolved.

Are the condenser coils dirty?

If the refrigerator is overworking and overheating, it could cause the breaker to trip. A common issue that causes a refrigerator to overheat is dirty condenser coils.

That’s because the job of the condenser coils is to release heat from the refrigerator. However, when they’re covered in dirt and hair, it insulates the coils, meaning heat can’t escape, resulting in your refrigerator’s compressor having to work harder to keep the refrigerator cool.

You can gently clean the refrigerator’s condenser coils, which are usually located underneath or at the back of the appliance, using a brush and vacuum.

Is there an issue with the refrigerator’s compressor?

The compressor draws the most power out of all of the refrigerator components. So when the compressor is faulty or damaged, it can often lead to the breaker tripping if it starts drawing more current than it should (and more than the circuit can handle).

If you notice the circuit breaker trips right away when you plug the refrigerator in, or when you hear the compressor start, this is a telltale sign that it could be the compressor drawing too much current.

Fixing or replacing a failing compressor isn’t an easy task, and generally needs to be done by a professional since it requires special tools and handling hazardous material like refrigerant. Nor is it cheap for the parts or labor, so you’ll want to weigh up whether it’s worth fixing the compressor or replacing the refrigerator entirely.

The bottom line

A range of issues can cause the refrigerator to trip the circuit breaker repeatedly. You should be able to do some basic checks yourself to help you identify whether it’s the circuit, outlet, power cord, or compressor causing the issue.

However, when it comes to fixing problems with your home’s electrical wiring or the refrigerator’s main components like the compressor, it’s generally best left to the professionals to ensure everything is done safely and in compliance with regulations.


Leave a Reply